|The Tower, Euan Macdonald, 2004 (source)
||Woman in the Dunes, Directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara, 1964 (source)
In 1986, Tour of the Universe, a space flight simulator for the masses, opened at the CN Tower in Toronto. Making use of two Boeing 747 simulators, the ride rattled passengers in sync with a projection of a flight towards Jupiter, asteroid collisions and all. While the ride gained local notoriety as ‘the world’s first simulator-based attraction’, to this young visitor, even more significant than the simulated space travel was the space/time travel required to access these future technologies. Before experiencing the ride proper, passengers were led to an elevator transporting them not only forty years into the future, but to a space port located 1,816 feet beneath the ground, as deep as the CN Tower is tall. Void of windows, it was impossible to tell the real depth of the space station, and so the illusion of a subterranean inverted tower was maintained. (In reality, the ride was located in the tower’s basement level, a few mere feet below ground.)
In 2004, artist Euan Macdonald produced The Tower, a full scale replica of the top twenty-five feet of the CN Tower, the remainder of the structure having been buried after millions of years of geological sedimentation. While not a deliberate reaction to the Tour of the Universe, the two pieces are linked by their common subject matter, the CN Tower, but also by their use of the subterranean world to cloud our understanding of our present reality. The only means of disproving either of these mythologies with confidence is to dig.
E. Sean Bailey
The act of digging often works in tandem with sheltering, typically as a means of collecting resources or clearing space. In Hiroshi Teshigahara’s 1964 film, Woman in the Dunes, digging becomes essential for survival. For the sometimes amorous protagonists—a widow and an entymologist—who are trapped in a house at the bottom of a sandpit, clearing the sand to ensure that their dwelling is not buried by the encroaching dunes is critical. The character of the sand, remains unforgivingly and unapologetically itself, and the design of the house does little to withstand the nature of its context. As a result, the building and its inhabitants are isolated, threatened, controlled, abused and irritated by their environment.
Social problems exacerbate physical ones, with the local community trapping the couple in the pit. They are denied basic supplies and even water if they refuse to dig. The community depends on the survival of the widow’s house in order to preserve the structure of the neighborhood, if her house fails then those nearby will also inevitably fail. The community also relies on sales from the sand, which is sold illegally to the city (despite its high salinity). Thus, the stability of the village is contingent on the integrity of the house, which depends on clearing the sand, which is then sold to the city to build ultimately unstable buildings.
In this world, stability and instability are inter-dependent.
Erandi de Silva
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